Film review by: Brian Penn
Addiction is one life’s greatest conundrums. We all succumb to some form of temptation or dependence in our lives. Less harmful addictions appear acceptable as a reward for sacrifices routinely made. But the more destructive addictions are the subject of this engaging, multi layered study by eight international directors. A public access TV channel crackles into life as a self-help guru explains the 10 steps to Nirvana. He urges viewers to take the first step and admit they are an addict. In almost evangelical style he provides the moments of light relief in a chequered viewing experience.
Eight short films are linked by the guru’s pronouncements, and swing between the classic addictions of sex and drugs but surprisingly no rock ‘n’ roll. It can border on flippancy particularly ‘toilet humour’ which explores the concept of gluttony and obsession with food. In contrast, ‘bleed for me’ is the disturbing tale of a young woman self-harming in the quest to feel something and find a partner who truly understands her. A man uses drugs as a means of connecting with a lover who has suddenly died. Two promiscuous women get kicks from taxi girl rides with a difference; until they meet their match. The contrasting addictions of solitude and pyromania are tackled as is the modern curse of gaming.
Like all films shot in this format it is very much a mixed bag. It hits the target more often than it misses but often struggles to establish a truly coherent theme. It may well focus on addiction, but often strays into the seven deadly sins and, depending on one’s own interpretation the ten commandments. Conceptually, there is a strong overlap but this tends to blur the narrative when a common thread is badly needed. However, there are some interesting ideas emanating from very capable directors, the structure just needs to be tightened up.